Aside from being human, one of the most interesting things that Mormons, Muslims, Atheists, Gays and Lesbians have in common is that a substantial number of voters are biased against voting for members of these socially constructed groups for President of the United States. A recent Gallup Poll and a journal article that is being published in Electoral Studies and discussed in Vanderbilt University’s “Research News” present data and analysis on this issue.
The Gallup Poll covering the period June 9-12, 2011, shows an unwillingness to vote for people with the following characteristics as President: Mormon, 22%; Gay or Lesbian, 32%; and Atheist, 49%. These religions and sexual orientations have substantially higher negatives than other groups tested by Gallop: Hispanics, 10%; Jews, 9%; Baptists, 7%; Catholics, 7%; women, 6%; and Blacks, 5%. Obviously, people can belong to one or more classifications, but the meaning of the survey is clear.
Gallop points out that the bias against Mormons has remained consistently high over decades while there have been steep declines in other categories. Resistance to a Mormon President shows that the largest differences are among different educational groups: college graduates, 12%; some college, 20%; and no college, 31%. Significant differences on Mormons for President were not correlated with gender, age, or religion. Republicans and independents demonstrated less reluctance than Democrats. Those from the East showed less bias towards a Mormon candidate than those in other parts of the country, especially the Midwest. These findings may pose a hurdle for Republican Presidential primary candidates Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman.
The data and analysis presented in the Electoral Studies journal article by Brett V. Benson, Jennifer L. Merolla and John G. Geer, “Two Steps Forward and One Step Back? Bias in 2008 Presidential Election” makes a number of interesting observations concerning religious bias. The data came from two Internet-based experiments run by Polimetrix in November 2007 and October 2008. John Geer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt observed:
“Our data showed that the voters’ increased social contact with Mormons reduces bias . . .